HC Deb 05 March 1897 vol 47 cc62-4

I beg to ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether it would be possible to at once lay before Parliament the Greek Note of 10th February, recently alluded to by him in the House, together with any subsequent statement of the case of the Greek Government which may be in the possession of Her Majesty's Government?


The Greek Notes will no doubt be laid in due course, together with the other papers relating to the same subject. There is the less necessity at once to lay the Note of February 11th, inasmuch as it would appear to have been already communicated by the Greek Government to the Press.

SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury a Question of which 1 have given him private notice—namely, whether he will state the terms of the demand made on the Sultan by the Government in concert with the Powers, and particularly the conditions imposed in regard to the removal of Turkish troops from Crete, and whether, as in the case of Greece, a fixed date has been assigned for the compulsory assent by the Porte to the conditions imposed?


As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, I am not in a position to answer the Question in consequence of not having received from our Ambassador at Constantinople authentic intelligence as to what has been done in the matter of the presentation of the Note to the Porte. I shall, of course, tell the House at the earliest opportunity what has occurred, and at once lay on the Table the Note to the Porte as well as the Note presented to the Greek Government.


As the position is very critical and the House will not meet again until Monday, can my right hon. Friend say whether, on the Adjournment of the House to-night, he would give further information as to the demands made upon Turkey as well as the demands made on Greece?


I think it is extremely probable I shall have information before the close of business, and if so I will communicate it to the House.

SIR E. ASHMEAD - BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

wished to inquire as to the fate of the Mussulmans at Candano, whether the attention of the Under Secretary had been called to the statement of the correspondent of Standard at Canea yesterday to the effect that a great deal of most precious time which may cost many lives is being wasted—in fact, the fate of the wretched Mussulmans appears to be secondary to the question which side should have the political credit of rescuing them. The claims of humanity are, in fact, those of diplomacy. A similar telegram appeared in the Daily News from another source. He wished to ask whether, in view of these facts and the danger these 3,000 persons, mostly women and children, were in at the present moment, the Government would telegraph to their Admiral in Cretan waters and instruct him and his colleagues to dispatch the land force stated by the Consuls of Great Britain, Russia and Italy on February 22 to be necessary for the relief of these persons?


asked if there was any truth in the statement made in several of that morning's papers that the Admirals opposed considerable delay to the Greek Consul, and refused to convey, or allow the Greek Consul to proceed to Candano in accordance with the orders of King George to render assistance in rescuing, the Moslems?


No, Sir; the statement is absolutely incorrect. I have not seen the telegram in the papers, but I do not hesitate to say that it did not give a correct statement of the facts. The information we have received on the subjects of the beleaguered garrisons at Candano and Selino is as follows: On March 2nd, the Dryad left to escort a Turkish steamer conveying provisions to the inhabitants of Selino. The Admirals on March 4, so far from refusing to help the Greek Vice-Consul, offered to convey him to Selino in a vessel of the Allied Fleet, with a view to assist the rescue of the Mussulmans at Candano. We have no information whether he refused or accepted. Special instructions to spare no exertions for this end have been sent to the British Admiral; and in addition to three foreign ships, Her Majesty's ship Rodney, with Sir A. Biliotti on board, has started for Selino with orders to relieve Candano.


I only wished to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity of stating whether or not it was true that the Admirals refused to permit the Consul to proceed on the Greek ship, and in consequence of the refusal several hours was lost.


My information does not bear that out.